Emergency rooms at Nebraska Medicine in Omaha are already seeing patients injured by fireworks. Dr. Jessica Summers is the medical director of their burn unit and says the type of injuries with the most common being hands, arms and the face but can run from minor to disabling injuries. Those can include the loss of an eye, arm, hand or fingers.
Dr. Summers has some safety tips for those wanting to shoot off their own fireworks. She says read all the instructions to the fireworks before lighting that match and follow all state and local laws. The only person that should handle fireworks is a sober adult. Those shooting off the fireworks should wear goggles, work gloves and long sleeve shirts and pants to prevent even minor burns. Spectators should watch from a safe distance and have a barrier between them and the firework itself. Have a bucket of water or a hose handy in case there is an accident. If you have a “dud” firework let it sit for about 15 minutes before putting it in a bucket of water.
Dr. Summers says fireworks and kids don’t mix. Sparklers are marketed for kids but they can burn upwards of 2,000 degrees F. She recommends noise makers, poppers, snappers and colored streamers for kids instead of fireworks that involve any kind of heat.
Nebraska Medicine sees about 30 patients a year due to fireworks injuries and about half of them are children. The 4th of July can be one of their busiest days of the year with the combination of fireworks injuries and other trauma they typically see daily in the E-R.
Dr. Summers asks everyone use extra care and asks Nebraskans to reconsider the backyard display and go enjoy a professional fireworks show where there is little risk of injury.